Listening notes and comparisons. The first ace in the 85's deck of winning cards was unpeeling from its box and styro packaging quite effortlessly all by myself. Manageable 24kg weight helped, too. Wiggle the biwire jumpers then tighten down the terminals. Voilà, lower contact resistance. All sweaty in anticipation now? Then your heart will warm too when your latest acquisition sounds unexpectedly clean and involving right off. And yes, over the first few days some things still unfold. What with spatially involving, look at some of my recent speaker reviews to spot a few high flyers like Wilson's SabrinaX and TuneTot, B&W's 805 D4 and Inklang's Ayers Four with their incredible center density. Now looking at four drivers to sugges relative incoherence from a 'just' €2'500 sticker predicted a return to normalcy. Off my high horse then?
Nein danke. This Quadral had other ideas. On transient definition it actually threw shade on the Ayers Four, then didn't disappoint even in a direct A/B against my SabrinaX. What this suited exceptionally well was Download's "Bell 47" from the album Helicopter + Wookie Wall. Squeaky synths squirreling through the stereo panorama came off expertly focused to be unusually easy to track. The simultaneous spacey pedals floated in equal focus lock freely before left and right box. Percussive synths that congregate tonally in the midband ground this assemblage. Those elements puckered as cleanly defined stage center as I'm used to from the rather pricier competition already mentioned. With simplistic systems, such electronica can feel boringly stark and flat. Over Quadral's Chromium Style 85, this music style made for fascinating trips into deep space.
Proportions were correct, images decorrelated extremely well from the physical boxes, individual sounds manifested outrageously embodied considering a tower speaker in this class. This was ably aided and abetted by a blackdrop equally unexpected for this price. How sounds differentiated one from the other felt very natural. Images didn't simply locate precisely, they were clearly outlined and concentrated so not bloomy or feathered. That created more space and air between. This obviously didn't just benefit electronica even if this latter trait felt still more pronounced on transient-rich synth percussion and bass. Unplugged fare reacted likewise. To the right a cornett, in the middle a guitar, slightly higher nicely metallic and oxygenated percussion, to the left a steel drum whose certain tones fixated outside the speaker: howdy "On the Town Square", a Robert Wyatt tune from his Comicopera album. This Quadral made definitive statements on just how free, structurally sorted and involving virtual space can get.
With "On the Town Square" still on my playlist platter, the opening drum roll is another good testing ground, leading us to the fiery subject of dynamics. With its ribbon tweeter, one might pigeonhole the 85 as quick but analytical to favor transients over sustain, attack over tone body. By admitted surprise, it's au contraire. Think solid color fill without tonal balance tricks. This actually meant that these drum hits across the midrange weren't quite as taut and dry as imaginable. Though very clean—something many speakers don't fully manage—the signal rise on the leading edge wasn't ideally vertical. Quickly following impulses thus showed a bit more overlay. Readers seeing unsaid stuff between the lines are assured that this behavior was the merest of hints. It was detectable only during specific musical passages listened to intently as one does for reviews. On dynamically loaded tracks like the Battle's "Titanium 2 Step" [Juice B Crypts], our Quadral truly aced the energies of dry hi-hat, stage-center snare and low-tuned tom with fat sustain. All of it was as jaggedly exciting as it should have been. In fact, the 85's penchant for proper sustain helped prevent such tracks from getting too jangly and lean.
Many listeners correlate tone colors particularly with the midrange. Apart from soundstaging, I thought that range to be the cherry with whipped cream of this speaker design. It was transparent, exceptionally pure and tonally a poster child for neutrality so more balanced than the B&W 804 Signature or Bryston's Mini A monitor. The B&W will retaliate with more transient-centric dynamics and because of it, still higher lucidity. For my ears, the Quadral's more organic vocals simply were the more compelling. Bryston's friendly tuning also did organic voices but injected a shot of extra lower-mid warmth. That felt less neutral than my guests from Hannover. This small difference will be purely down to personal taste.